Oct 212013
 

I’ll see your Q, and I’ll raise you one A…


What is your opinion on the usage of safety words or safe gestures? Does J have a safety word? Do you?

My opinion…?

Safewords are an important part of safe, sane, and consensual BDSM play. They’re vital for establishing trust, maintaining safety, and for ensuring that no one violates anyone else’s consent during play. In general, people should discuss them, use them, and respect them… but…

J and I have been together more than two and a half years and we’ve played together… a lot.

If I was playing with someone new or playing casually, I’d probably have a safeword and expect my partner/s to have one too.
dumb domme says...

I don’t like them.* We don’t use them.

J doesn’t have a safeword and neither do I.

I don’t like safewords for the same reason I don’t like “soft limits” — both concepts seem to create grey areas where there shouldn’t be any. When it comes to limits, boundaries, and consent, I want everything in black and white.

For that reason, if J says “no,” I stop. If J says “stop,” I stop. If J appears to be in distress, I stop.

To me, “no” means “no,” and I don’t want it to mean anything else.

We don’t need safe gestures or codes, (like dropping objects, tapping out, or grunting), because if there’s even the slightest chance J might withdraw consent, I won’t take away his ability to do so. I’m not a big fan of gags anyway, and certainly not in situations where there’s a possibility J might want/need to say “stop.”

For all of those reasons, we don’t need safewords.

People who do need safewords and safe gestures are those who want to play with the idea of “consensual non-consent.”  When there’s a safeword in place, bottoms can say “no” without meaning it, and tops can hear “no” and ignore it. Safewords enable both parties to role-play or pretend that the bottom’s consent is being violated.

For some people, “consensual non-consent”  is seriously sexy stuff. But to me, there’s nothing sexy about non-consent, be it “consensual,”  role-play, or otherwise.

J doesn’t say “no” often, but when he does, I assume he means it. If he says “no,” I stop. No safeword required.

 


Notes that otherwise would have made this TL;DR….(and notes that might get me hate mail)

* I don’t like safewords, but it has nothing to do with bullshit about “true” doms or “true” subs. What’s that all about? you ask? Well, a few self-important, over-compensating, humorless fucksticks who have some sort of nearsightedness when it comes to estimating size of their own metaphorical balls, (the type of people who wear three wolf moon t-shirts un-ironically,) spout rubbish about “true” doms and “true” subs. Basically, the ridiculous line of thinking is that “true” submissives don’t need safewords because they should have no limits. “True” dominants don’t need safewords either because “true” DoMiNanTs, by nature of their inborn Dominantly Dominantishness and Divine Dom Divinity, can anticipate a submissive’s boundaries and stop without the need for a safeword… or somesuch bullshit. With very few exceptions, this is total rubbish. At best, it’s melodrama. At worst, when it’s used to take advantage of submissives (or dominants, I guess), it’s dangerous, disgusting, and fucking awful.
† I stop, but that doesn’t mean play is over. If he says “no” or “stop,” we take a minute (or more) to figure out what’s going on. We talk, assess, and adjust, and sometimes we go back to it, and sometimes we move on to something else. Ultimately, all of that is my decision, but I always err on the side of caution. I won’t risk his physical or emotional safefy because it gets my rocks off. It’s not worth it. I’d rather be a boring, ineffective dominant than a sexy, dangerous one.
‡ I struggle even using the term “consensual non-consent.” I know what it’s supposed to mean and what it’s often interpreted to mean, but the term really bothers me for a variety of reasons. First, it’s an oxymoron. The adjective and the noun — ‘consensual’ and ‘non-consent’ — are contradictory and mutually exclusive. It’s not possible to give consent for non-consent. Second, I fear the existence of the term (it’s inherent contradiction, haphazard definitions and usage, and variety of applications) may be dangerous. I haven’t done enough reading or figured out all of my thoughts on this, but I hope to articulate it at some point.
Thumbnail image derived from “untitled” (IMG_8706.JPG) © 2007 by Tantek Çelik, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

 

  30 Responses to “playing without a safeword”

  1. Your reasoning behind having no use for safe words sounds reasonable, and quite logical to me. I think the whole issue of how, when,and if, you use safe words would be quite dependent upon each individual relationship.

    Even though my play experience is rather limited, (Meaning: practically none)the one thing I *HAVE* learned is that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to go about forming your particular style. Every relationship will grow of it’s own accord, and the standards of others be damned.

    I would also like to hear your views on the term “consensual non-consent.”, when you get it sorted out in your mind.

    • Your reasoning behind having no use for safe words sounds reasonable, and quite logical to me.

      Thanks. Yeah, for the most part, safewords are meant to communicate “no” and “stop.” Since in our relationship, “no” and “stop” mean “no” and “stop,” there’s really no need for them. :)

      I would also like to hear your views on the term “consensual non-consent.”, when you get it sorted out in your mind.

      Oh, I adore that you read the TL;DR parts! And thank you… if I ever get it sorted out… it will show up here! If… :)

  2. You don’t need me to tell you this, but your reasons for playing without safewords are completely sound. I have safewords when I play, but I still always have plain English mean exactly what it normally does. It is worth noting, though, that “ow” and “stop” are not the same thing.

    Also, I’m curious about the Creative Commons attribution at the bottom of your post. I don’t see anywhere that you used the linked picture. Was it part of an earlier design for this post?

    • You don’t need me to tell you this

      Maybe not, but I always like to hear it! :)

      It is worth noting, though, that “ow” and “stop” are not the same thing.

      Right you are! There are fine shades of difference, too, between ‘ow,’ ‘ouch,’ ‘urgh,’ ‘ugh,’ ‘hmmpph,’ and ‘mmmphf.’

      Also, I’m curious about the Creative Commons attribution at the bottom of your post. I don’t see anywhere that you used the linked picture. Was it part of an earlier design for this post?

      Excellent question! Very observant, Neo. :)

      Actually, the omission of the image in the full text of the post is intentional. The thumbnail shows up in the category views (here), and sometimes when the link is posted elsewhere (like Facebook). I’m not entirely sure how/where to provide attribution for images that are only used in archives/off-site posts, so for now, I’m putting the info in the main body of the post.

  3. Makes sense to me.

    I use safewords because I *love* hearing ‘no’ and ‘stop’ and knowing he means it (really, he honest to god does) but doesn’t *mean* it (really, he honest to god doesn’t). That genuine internal conflict (the love/hate, yes/no, go/stop) that can result in him blurting out ‘No!’ in the midst of it all is amazing-hot-powerful to me. And risky. And worth it. And I don’t get there without knowing him really well.

    As a side note, if he yells ‘Cramp!’, I’m not going to be ignoring it because ‘that’s not your safe word’.

    Ferns

    • That genuine internal conflict (the love/hate, yes/no, go/stop) that can result in him blurting out ‘No!

      I get that. :) I absolutely enjoy seeing the internal conflict, but what’s hottest about the struggle is when he fights to control himself and wins… because it’s what I want.

      He has said “no” and not meant it (not been able to control himself, not thinking, etc.) When that happens, I stop, and then we have to talk about what it means to be able to control oneself. If he needs to stop the action, by all means, he should. But if he’s able to continue — if he wants to continue — he should figure out how to control himself. At the least, he should be able to control his mouth and what it blurts out.

      And all of that is hot because of what you mentioned — he absolutely does mean it and absolutely doesn’t. :) When he chooses what I want — when he chooses my desires over his own (and makes my desires his own) — that? That is fuckinghot.

      • Sometimes I crave scenes that are more S&M based than d/s based, so basically just about the sensation and not really about control. In those situations, I don’t want to control my reactions/words, I just sort of want to go limp and get hurt and let whatever screams or pleas or squirmings come out as they will (obviously, all of this with a dom who’s also looking for an experience with more sadism, less control). But I have that same habit of saying no reflexively under stress without meaning it. In that situation, it’s very good to have a safeword that’s basically just like saying no in a different language that’s less of a reflex. All the same, if I’m playing with a safeword, I don’t treat it as magic. I expect “My back’s gone out!” to be taken seriously, because nobody has a reflex to say “My back’s gone out.” It’s literally just those short, easy reflexive English pleas, “no”, “ow”, “stop”, etc. that I want to take off the table.

        • Sometimes I crave scenes that are more S&M based than d/s based, so basically just about the sensation and not really about control.

          Hmm… now that you mention this, I wonder if I could even do that — top, S&M without the D/s? That might be a challenge, though I guess with the right partner, it would work.

          I expect “My back’s gone out!” to be taken seriously, because nobody has a reflex to say “My back’s gone out.”

          Ha! That makes sense, of course. I can’t imagine any top who would ignore something like that (but unfortunately, I’m sure they exist, somewhere).

          • Ah well, of course you’re under no obligation to top S&M-wise without the D/s :) I’m just a switch, D/s-wise, but no matter what D/s headspace I’m in, certain types of painful stimulation (especially thuddy hitting stuff) always feel good. Usually, yes, submitting enhances the pain, but sometimes I crave ordering someone to hit me just the way I want to be hit or I crave lying back and not having to think about obeying OR staying in control. To each their (consensual) own :D

  4. “Well, a few self-important, over-compensating, humorless fucksticks who have some sort of nearsightedness when it comes to estimating size of their own metaphorical balls, (the type of people who wear three wolf moon t-shirts un-ironically,) spout rubbish about “true” doms and “true” subs.”

    ““True” dominants don’t need safewords either because “true” DoMiNanTs, by nature of their inborn Dominantly Dominantishness and Divine Dom Divinity, can anticipate a submissive’s boundaries and stop without the need for a safeword… or somesuch bullshit.”

    I just peed my pants.

    Mr. K and I don’t play with a safeword either. If he says “stop that shit,” I stop, and vice versa. Okay, so actually, it’s more like a safe sentence. An incomplete one, but still effective.

    • I just peed my pants.

      In that case, may I offer you a squeegee? a Shamwow, perhaps?

      If he says “stop that shit,” I stop, and vice versa. Okay, so actually, it’s more like a safe sentence. An incomplete one, but still effective

      I’m with you on that one. Sentences work… so use ’em. I expect boys to be able to use their mouths… for a variety of purposes. :)

  5. Hear, hear. I applaud your bravery in simultaneously inciting the wrath of the “true” doms on the one hand and the safety police on the other. That such a well reasoned post might incite the fury of so many is truly a testament to your blogging skills. Good show.

    In all seriousness, I also prefer plain English communication to code. “My left hand is numb” seems far more useful than red, yellow, snagglepuss, or some contrived code word. And the use of plain English allows the scene to go on without upsetting the power dynamic. After assessing the situation, the decision to continue and in what manner is yours.

    It seems to me that safewords are more about consent than safety. Consent can be negotiated and communicated in many ways. To each his own. But the emphasis on safewords may obscure the real risks involved in some forms of BDSM play. Having a safeword does little to ensure that play is actually safe, it just ensures that any resulting injury will be consensual. I have a hard time imagining a real life situation in which injury occurs during play after I have communicated distress. Even with a gag, I am confident I can get that message across and that my partner would understand it.

    But a safeword is only useful if it is used. As your reply to Ferns’ comment points out, J wants to continue, he wants to please you, he wants to put your desires over his own. It’s so fuckinghot that he doesn’t want it to end. I get that. But the submissive or bottom must still assume responsibility for his or her own safety in the scene. And this can be really difficult when so much power is handed over to the top. A good top may recognize the signs of distress, but the bottom bears responsibility as well. Because it doesn’t end the scene, plain English communication may actually be more effective just because it is more likely to be used. The greatest risk occurs when nothing is said at all.

    Have you ever had a situation in which you think J should have said “no” or “stop,” but didn’t for fear of ending the scene or disappointing you? If so, how did you handle that? What steps could be taken to ensure that the words are spoken when they need to be?

    • Having a safeword does little to ensure that play is actually safe, it just ensures that any resulting injury will be consensual.

      Ha! (I have no idea why I noted my response as such, as what you say is 100% true.). Neither plain English nor safewords ensure play is safe — as you noted, only means injury is consensual (or at least, risk aware… I think)

      But the submissive or bottom must still assume responsibility for his or her own safety in the scene.

      I’ve said as much to J — it’s half his responsibility to ensure I don’t hurt him.

      Have you ever had a situation in which you think J should have said “no” or “stop,” but didn’t for fear of ending the scene or disappointing you? If so, how did you handle that?

      To the best of my memory, there was only one instance. In short, he explained that he hadn’t said anything because he wasn’t sure it was a big deal, and because he enjoyed that type of play and was afraid I’d get skittish about trying it again. I referred him back to the rule (perhaps the most important one): “If something is wrong [. . .] you need to let me know immediately, regardless of what you think my reaction will be.”

      To my knowledge, it hasn’t happened since.

      What steps could be taken to ensure that the words are spoken when they need to be?

      I think keeping calm is a big one (for the dom). When we first started playing, J had to call me off a handful of times when I hurt him… and I didn’t handle it well. I stopped completely (stopped playing altogether) and overreacted (it’s strange to realize you’ve just hurt someone you love in a way you didn’t intend) — I made too much out of it and was hesitant to try that form of play again. That, of course, explains why he was hesitant to tell me in the situation described above.

      With more experience, I chilled out a bit. Now he knows he can say something without me freaking out and threatening to put him in protective bubble wrap or promising to wear oven mitts when I touch him… :)

  6. An interesting post which on the whole I agree with. My Mistress and I don’t use safe words because we have been playing together for a very long time and she can always tell when I am near my limit, usually without any kind of verbal communication from me. The basic issue is trust and if you trust each other then safe words should be unnecessary. Having said that I would not presume to say that no-one should have them. If you want to use them then by all means do so and if that makes you happier, more secure and less apprehensive then good for you (and hopefully good for your partner).

  7. “To me, “no” means “no,” and I don’t want it to mean anything else.”

    Yes. This. Absolutely definitely yes.

    I treat “no” and “stop” as sacred. If my partner doesn’t want things to stop, s/he’d best not say them. (“Fuck you,” “ow ow ow!” “that hurts” and screaming, on the other hand, I take as a sign that I’m doing things right.)

    The Techie and I did adopt the use of “yellow” purely to indicate “that spot needs a break or there will be a problem, but there isn’t one yet” without interrupting flow of play to discuss what’s not an issue. For anything that does need a full pause (water/blood pressure check/I know that piercing had a captive ball ring in it earlier, we should probably find that), I use my words like an adult: “Hang on, I need a drink or BP’s going to crash” etc.

    Oh, and as for “consensual non-consent,” agreed. Bullshit term. It’s rape role-play, and if someone is too squeamish to call it that I question their ability to safely enact it.

    • I use my words like an adult: “Hang on, I need a drink or BP’s going to crash” etc.

      Yes to this! I mean, to each her own, but I like plain English.

      Oh, and as for “consensual non-consent,” agreed. Bullshit term. It’s rape role-play, and if someone is too squeamish to call it that I question their ability to safely enact it.

      Agreed! Not only is it a bullshit term, but I’d bet my left earlobe that it’s detrimental in general. Conflating consent and nonconsent can’t be anything but dangerous. People can do what they want, but I wish they would call it what it is… rape role-play.

  8. I’m (male) in a 24/7 slavery relationship with my partner (female). I don’t bother much with all the pigeon holing that seems to be so important to so many internet BDSM practitioners. I abhor the commonplace view of “right and true” BDSM pratice vs. “wrong and false”. The only thing truly wrong, is to abuse a submissive against their will.

    For us though, personally, we don’t have a safe word at all and” no” does certainly not mean much coming from me if she’s feeling otherwise. This is what works for us, and I really like the feeling of the lack of baggage. The baggage that I felt we got from me always having a way to get out of a certain punishment or scene that I didn’t feel like. For her this reduced her confidence greatly and created a non-trusting mindset towards what I said. For me our dynamic is closely tied to real power, and this is how I like to live it. As “real” as consensual slavery can be felt.

    I can’t ever recommend it though, and I’m certainly not trying to say that it’s something that could work for many people out there, there’s probably very few who are comfortable and trusting with running a dynamic like this. The problems are huge in “consensual non-consent” (I’m not a fan of the word either), especially when no act from my side is regarded as a veto by her. I could easily get “raped” by her, which makes the trust SO important.

    We’re an extremely trusting relationship, and we’ve been “playing” for a long while so it mostly just felt natural for us. An important point is also that I spend 2 hours or so A DAY to write long texts about how I felt about everything that happened the last day. I’ve done that for a bit over a year, and the document now amounts to several books of text. This keeps her closely in touch with everything that wasn’t said or clear and makes her very much trust me and what she’s doing. It easily allows transparency and problems to be acknowledged before they really become, problems.

    This is VITAL for us and something I HIGHLY recommend. Sure, it would be possibly to say it out loud, but because of the dynamic this necessarily will affect what I’m saying and she can’t be perfectly trusting in that what I say is what I really mean and feel. In text though, written by myself and from an objective viewpoint (a pseudo third-party observer) it’s very easy to communicate exactly what I felt and thought about everything that happened. There’s no constraints in my text, no at all. Nothing is expected of me and everything is allowed in the text, which differs so much from our interaction in real life. It’s a safe haven of trusted communication and feedback.

    The point of this post was just to get my nose out there, to show my presence since my relationship is so different in this aspect. I exist, I promise you that, and we’re both extremely happy and satisfied with our arrangement.

    I think it’s ridiculously important not to get to hung up on the terms and their meanings, but rather to seek your own meaning within the context of your own relationship. For us this works, for others your style works and for yet other, they prefer something different altogether.

    We’re all different but we’ve got many things in common, practicing continuous BDSM dynamics.

    I chose my life and you chose yours. There shouldn’t be any judgment, but there should always be empathic caring for others and assistance where assistance is needed and sought. Those who feel they have something to prove to others, or something to correct them on, please ask yourself: “Why am I trying to classify and prove something about a life I’m not a part of? HOW can I?”.

    Questions are always welcome and will of course be appreciated!

    Slavenized

    • Sorry, Slavenized. Your comment got caught up in my spam filter for a couple days.

      An important point is also that I spend 2 hours or so A DAY to write long texts about how I felt [. . .] This keeps her closely in touch with everything that wasn’t said or clear and makes her very much trust me and what she’s doing. It easily allows transparency and problems to be acknowledged before they really become, problems.

      Writing is great for just that reason, but two hours a day? Wow. I don’t imagine most people would have the time to do that.

      I chose my life and you chose yours. There shouldn’t be any judgment, but there should always be empathic caring for others and assistance where assistance is needed and sought.

      I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at here, so I have no idea how to respond.

      I appreciate the idea of maintaining empathy, but no judgment? I don’t think anyone should judge without knowing the details of a person or situation, and we should keep in mind that our knowledge is biased, incomplete, etc., but of course we judge, and I have no problem with that.

      Those who feel they have something to prove to others, or something to correct them on, please ask yourself: “Why am I trying to classify and prove something about a life I’m not a part of? HOW can I?”.

      If you’re referring to the non-consensual consent thing, my want to grapple with the term is precisely because I believe the term is dangerous to me and to women in general. In my mind, it’s an issue that affects culture, not just people who endorse practice of non-consensual consent. Anyway, more on that in another post, if and when I can collect my thoughts.

      Thanks for the comment, Slavenized.

      • 2h/day might be a bit of an exaggeration, it really varies and I don’t know what the true mean is. But I’m a full time student at the time with no kids so I’ve got that time in the evenings. But the point is that I always write, just less some days and more some (total record is about 10 pages concerning one day).

        This is the greatest sole thing we’ve done to help the dynamic, so I really take and find time to put to this because of the importance of it. Recreation can really wait. Also, we’re only about ~2 years into this experiment so still learning A LOT. One day, it might be discontinued if the need disappears. Right now, the need is obvious.

        But isn’t judging really the problem? Isn’t judging other peoples lives what creates these statements of “true” D/s-dynamics and the rights and wrongs? The pigeon holing, doesn’t it all stem from judging? I don’t know how you define the word, but to me it sounds quite negative. I appreciate counseling and guidance, but judging feels wrong (unless of course, someone commits abuse, then judge away).

        I would love some post on the topic of your view of the term and its effect on culture and women in general. I’m not sure I’m entirely following you, but I am your blog so I’m looking forward to it.

        Thanks for your reply, as well
        Love your blog

  9. Over all I agree with everything here. I do use safewords for two reasons:

    1) I have known some subs who in low-level sub space aren’t able to say no/stop, but are able to safeword. I don’t understand the psychology behind why that happens, but I consider it a good reason to have a safeword, just in case I ever run into another sub like that.

    2) I do (sometimes) enjoy role playing non-consent scenes (interogations, kidnappings, etc). and it’s kind of hard for a sub role play a kidnap victim effectively if he can’t say ‘no’ or ‘stop’ or ‘let me go!!’

    But for most play, I don’t feel safewords are necessary. Outside those specific situations, “Stop” “That hurts” and “fuck, that’s triggering me!” work quite well.

    • I have known some subs who in low-level sub space aren’t able to say no/stop, but are able to safeword. I don’t understand the psychology behind why that happens,

      Interesting! I’m sure there’s some reason. Regardless, as you mention, there’s absolutely no harm in having one in place, even if no one ever decides to use it.

      I do (sometimes) enjoy role playing non-consent scenes (interogations, kidnappings, etc). and it’s kind of hard for a sub role play a kidnap victim effectively if he can’t say ‘no’ or ‘stop’ or ‘let me go!!’

      Understandable. :) Also, thanks for calling it what it is! Role play.

  10. Oh–and thanks for the link to Three Wolf Moon, had missed that some how. What do you think, if a woman wore it would it have the same effect on men, or would I be attracting lots of lesbian and bi women?

    • What do you think, if a woman wore it would it have the same effect on men, or would I be attracting lots of lesbian and bi women?

      Oh, honey, the Three Wolf Moon t-shirt’s power isn’t restricted to the boundaries of sex, gender, or sexuality — it’s powers are equally effective on men, women, and all points in between, beyond, or separate. THREE WOLF MOON IS SEXUAL POWER!!!1!

      (in a comfortable cotton screen print)

  11. TN and I have a safe word, but that’s because we’re new at this; I think it makes us both feel a little better about the whole thing. And the one or two times I saw him about to throw it out there I was able to navigate what was really happening, which was he was tipping over — which was the whole fucking point and thank god he didn’t safeword, the little man baby.

    Anyway, I digress: my point is that if you guys don’t need one of those balancing sticks to cross the tightrope, then go for it. I don’t really have an opinion on it fully, I feel more like I’m dancing around it. xx Hy

    • navigate what was really happening, which was he was tipping over

      Do you mean he was literally tipping over? Or figuratively tipping over? :)

      my point is that if you guys don’t need one of those balancing sticks to cross the tightrope, then go for it. I don’t really have an opinion on it fully, I feel more like I’m dancing around it.

      Ain’t nothing wrong with dancing as long as you have a great partner and you’re enjoying the steps. :)

  12. I only agreed a safeword with my boy when we started playing in public purely so that he could give us both a way of letting me know that something was wrong or going to be wrong without having to break role.
    In general though, while he may say ‘no’ or ‘stop’ or complain vociferously while we play I can tell he doesn’t mean it. When he does mean it, it’s very obvious. There’s nothing more certain to stop play than that reaction. I sometimes wonder though if he knows how hard it is for me after that point to actually carry on playing.
    While I can stop and reassure him that everything is ok, there’s not generally any reassuring for me. It’s the disruption that bothers me and safeword or not, hitting that is a bad thing.

    • I only agreed a safeword with my boy when we started playing in public purely so that he could give us both a way of letting me know that something was wrong or going to be wrong without having to break role.

      This is interesting to me — what do you mean by ‘role’ here? If your boy shouted “green eggs and ham” mid scene, I assume onlookers would know he was calling his safeword, so I’m not sure how that would mean breaking role but ‘no’ or ‘stop’ wouldn’t. (Oh, FYI, haven’t really done public play, so I have no idea about any of it!)

      While I can stop and reassure him that everything is ok, there’s not generally any reassuring for me. It’s the disruption that bothers me and safeword or not, hitting that is a bad thing.

      Oh! Yes to this!!! I certainly don’t mean to compare a submissive’s and dominant’s experiences, but no one ever mentions the fact that hitting a safeword (or ‘no’) is often traumatic for the dominant. I get that the sub needs the immediate care (and bulk of it), but how about a little reassurance for the dominants, too?

      Great point, Faile.

  13. And, once again, you state my thoughts more eloquently than I possibly can.

    Rather than saying I do not use safewords, I say that my safewords are things like, “No,” “Stop it,” and “AAAaahhh that was too much!” When those — or body language that indicates a problem — come up, we stop, change course, or adjust as necessary.

    • Thanks, WeekBiWeek.

      I thought about saying something similar to that, as in “‘no’ is my safeword.” Ultimately, I didn’t because I wonder if we (the community, writers, bloggers, etc.) don’t give safewords too much power (power they don’t really have), especially for people new to BDSM, D/s, and all that. Some articles focus so much on safewords that it gives the impression safewords make people safe, or that safewords are some magical, foolproof way to ensure consent. In reality, they don’t make people safe (all by themselves), and they aren’t a foolproof way to ensure consent is respected. What they are is a small part of a larger, ongoing conversation people should have with their sex partners about consent, boundaries, limits, and all that stuff.

      Anyway, you’re experienced and smart, so I know you already know all of that. :) I’ve just been thinking about safewords and consent in light of recent conversations on the interwebz… and apparently, I’ve used a reply to you and a place to dump some thoughts. Sorry about that!

      As always, good to see you, WBW. Thanks for the comment. :)

      I know you know all this

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